I recently attended a great ‘Mobile Marketing Breakfast Club’ hosted by my friends at Yodel Mobile, where we talked about the impact of Dual Screening (using a tablet or mobile to do something else whilst watching TV) and Second Screening (using a tablet or mobile to engage with the TV programme) and the fact that almost half of 18-34 year olds now say their mobile is their ‘most important’ screen (above laptops, tablets and TVs).   Speakers from ITV and Shazam also showcased some fantastic, innovative examples of how brands are delivering immediate and rich programme- and advert–related content via Apps.

These Apps were effectively a ‘one stop shop’ for the user, providing bonus features, competitions, loyalty scheme sign-ups and so on.  But it seemed odd to me that these leading players were still quoting a relatively old and clunky measurement (Click Thru Rates) as a key metric, especially as they showed some pretty low numbers.  Their rationale when questioned was ‘it’s still valid as clients expect it’.

Perhaps it’s time for clients and agencies to step back and ask ‘what are we really trying to achieve here?’

I’m not questioning CTR as a measurement per se, or the need to sometimes direct people to deeper content elsewhere.  My question is about its relevance when it’s linked to activity where rich content is served at first contact.  Shouldn’t In-App engagement be the primary focus?

There are two reasons for the question.  Firstly, if all the Click Thru is doing is pushing people to the brand’s website – to more general information, or other promotions – what has it really achieved? (apart from information overload?).  Secondly, whenever you put another link in a chain, the risk of losing people along the way increases, either through apathy or lack of time.  At worst, you could actively alienate people by making them jump through unnecessary hoops to an ‘unrewarded’ destination.

This last point is especially key as people’s attention spans dwindle and their demand to access short-form content immediately (wherever, whenever) increases.

Back in the early days of digital marketing (just a few years ago), brands were genuinely limited with the ‘first stage’ information they could provide, so a link to the home site was absolutely appropriate.  Now, as ably demonstrated by the likes of ITV and Shazam, rich, engaging and rewarding content is available at the first click.  So brands should think really hard about whether there’s an actual need to push people elsewhere, or whether it’s really just a Pavlov’s dog obligation (‘because the client expects it’).

One of the golden rules of marketing has always been that communications should be singled-minded.  I don’t believe this has changed.  Brands still need to focus on a key message and a desired consumer response, regardless of how rich the first contact can now be.

When researching this piece, I found plenty of articles on how to measure CTRs, industry comparisons etc, but didn’t find any questioning their continued relevance.  As CEOs increasingly push their marketing teams to deliver higher ROIs, is it time to question the need to Click Thru in the first place, and whether we’re actually measuring the right thing?

I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this.